An officer serving the ruling government cannot be appointed as State Election Commissioner: SC

In a significant verdict, the Supreme Court on Friday ruled that a government official serving in the state government cannot be appointed as State Election Commissioner for that State. This order was passed to ensure the Independence of the State Election Commission.

A Bench headed by Hon’ble Justice RF Nariman issued directions under Article 42 of the Indian Constitution to direct all territories and states to ensure they have an Independent State Election Commissioner as mandated under Article 243(4).

Background

The above-mentioned ruling was given in a case from goa where the law secretary was given to charge as Election Commissioner. The instant case relates to Goa Municipality elections wherein reservation for woman wards and wards SC/ST candidates were not made under section 9 & 10 of Goa Municipalities Act r/w Article 243 of the Constitution.

The High Court struck down the notice for reservation of the wards on the count, causing constitutional infractions and issued dehors to the mandate of the Indian Constitution.

Proceeding before the Supreme Court

Before the Apex Court, the state government argued that the High Court could not interfere in the election process.

However, the Bench disagreed and upheld the High Court verdict. The Bench ruled that the state should not have appointed a law secretary as the Election Commissioner as this led to the independence of the election being compromised.

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Judgement

The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the instant case was special, with special facts, and the election process was not challenged, but the step before it was challenged.

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